Jun 4, 2009

Talkin' Bout My Generation

Joe smiling. His senior picture.A colleague working at a big government agency tweeted,
I'd like to see a visualization of ages of federal employees. I'm worried we lost an entire generation. We need more young people!--annon
This weekend my son is graduating from high school. And, I can say--without bias--that he is a brilliant, talented, extraordinary young man. He sees the frustration of trying to do good work in government and asks, "Why do you do it, Mom?" 

But this isn't about me. It's about him, and making public service attractive to the best, the brightest, and the most talented--like him and his classmates. Not because government is a "secure" job, but because government is where good people go to do good work. Because government is where innovation is happening. Because government can help you change the world. Because public service is challenging and rewarding.

What will it take to for Joe and his classmates to bring the future into government? As was said, we need more young people. Discuss.

[I am going off the grid for the next few days to celebrate some family time. Be back next week.]


  1. Hi Gwynne,

    Congratulations on your's son's graduation. What a momentous time for you and him!

    The Council for Excellence in Government and Gallup conducted a study they titled, "Within Reach But Out of Synch." They gained some valuable insight from Gen Y regarding what they seek in an ideal job. They also compared government to the private and non-profit sectors. I just tried to find the link, but the PDF is dead due to the Council disbanding.

    I have a couple slides on it (22-24) in the deck titled "Federal Family Portrait" at http://www.slideshare.net/akrzmarzick. You'll also find there a couple new slide decks that provide a few ideas/examples (7 in the "Reaching Gen C" slides beginning at slide 21 and a few more beginning around slide 25 in the "Web 2.0 and Federal HR Policy") "A Federal Family Portrait" has some overlap, I think...but may have a few original things, too.

    Look forward to seeing the ideas here...especially if they come from your son's classmates!

    - Andy

  2. Great post, Gwynne. And something we all should be thinking about, as Boomers exit stage right and make way for a new generation. I wrote a blog piece a few months ago (Don't Make Your Bosses Do All the Thinking), wondering the same thing. I was provoked by a good article by Michael Malone in the WSJ: The Next American Frontier http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121115437321202233.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries. Malone suggest that young people don't want to be part of huge organizations (like government) - they're more entrepreneurial. So how does government attract that talent? Alternative work schedules and work situations would help, for one thing. Changing the chain-of-command mentality to allow young up-and-comers opportunities to access top executives and float their ideas...and a more experimental (read: less fearful) culture where innovation is invited and rewarded. Is that possible? Well...just maybe. This is a very timely and worthwhile discussion. Good for you to start it.


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